Opioids prescribed following outpatient knee surgery are often dispensed at strengths linked to an increased risk of overdose death, according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania.
“We found massive levels of variation in the proportion of patients who are prescribed opioids between states, even after adjusting for nuances of the procedure and differences in patient characteristics,” said Dr. M. Kit Delgado, a Penn epidemiologist who served as lead author of the study. “We’ve also seen that the average number of pills prescribed was extremely high for outpatient procedures of this type, particularly for patients who had not been taking opioids prior to surgery.”
“These studies suggest that current prescribing patterns are still resulting in a significant number of opioid tablets in the community that could be misused and potentially diverted to others,” Delgado said. “The data we’ve collected show that there’s ample opportunity to reduce excessive prescribing for this common outpatient procedure.”